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MDA “looking into” new website by former editor of TRS

str

Mr Alex Tan, a former editor of The Real Singapore (TRS), has set up a new website, called Straits Times Review (STR), according to news reports.

It is apparently the latest of several relatively new socio-political sites which have sprouted in recent months.

STR describes itself as “an independent news site based in Australia.”

Mr Tan, who described himself as the “former founder editor of The Real Singapore and an active contributor of TRS”, is also believed to be based in Sydney, Australia.

“STR strive [sic] to be neutral and unbiased in Singapore's media landscape,” a post on its Facebook page on 21 April says. “The articles here presented are hand-picked and sure make good reads.”

Mr Tan added, “I will remain as the only editor and decide what goes and doesn’t ... I have to be frank that not all articles will be published as I want this to be a permanent initiative and as an alternative to the mainstream media,”

When approached by the mainstream Straits Times newspaper for an interview, STR replied, "Apologies. I would have to decline your interview as the Singapore media is controlled by the PAP government. Until Singapore's press accuracy improves, I will not grant any interview to any Singapore media."

Singapore’s Press Freedom ranking by Reporters Without Borders has dipped to its lowest ever, at 153rd in the world.

STR added on Tuesday, “I will not entertain any media interview unless the Media Development Authority [MDA] is abolished.”

In its reaction to the emergence of the new website, the MDA told the media it “is looking into the matter”.

It is unclear what the MDA means or why it finds it necessary to “look into the matter”.

The MDA, which is under the purview of the Ministry of Communications and Information (MCI), had on Sunday ordered the editors of TRS to shut itself down within 6 hours.

It said the site had published content which was not in the “public interest” and which could harm “national harmony”.

Two of the alleged editors of TRS, who are also believed to have been based in Australia, were arrested and charged with seven counts of sedition when the duo visited Singapore in February.

On Monday, one of the two was allowed to return to Australia to visit his father who is critically ill after having suffered a stroke on May Day.

However, conditions have been imposed on the travel approval given to his son, who is expected to return by 17 May to face trial.

The two alleged editors facing trial say they have nothing to do with the new Straits Times review site.

Other socio-political websites which have also emerged in recent times include Redwire Times, which also describes itself as “an independent news” site which is not afraid “to be critical, thought-provoking and blunt”; and All Singapore Stuff, set up in Jan 2013.